Sunshine Alaibe: Taking African Art, Artists To The World
Sunshine Alaibe is a curator, creative consultant and art dealer with extensive experience in client relations and project management. Current gallery manager and lead curator at O’DA Art Lagos, she is responsible for organising exhibitions, developing the gallery’s collection and broadening the representation of artists.
Prior to this role, she served as a Client Relations Manager at Art Twenty One Lagos, 2019-2021, along with duties as a sales liaison to Echo Art Lagos. In 2017, she served as a Sales executive for Online Art Company, Artyrama, while curating exhibitions for Cameroonian Collective, Gondwana Art. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University College London and a Master’s in International Management from the University of Exeter with a Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership.
As manager and head curator, how do you decide which exhibitions and collections to show?
As a gallery, we are committed to championing mid-career and established artists from the African continent and its diaspora, whilst celebrating a wide range of designers across the continent. In order to achieve this, we decide on the artists and designers we want to work with before the year begins and map out a detailed program to make sure adequate research and preparation is done. Its important for me to continue to serve the community of artists and designers we represent and to make sure we tell their stories through collaborative efforts.
Would you say you have to have some connection/drawn to an artist’s work or style first before exhibiting?
It’s important for me to have a firm understanding of the work we exhibit in the gallery. Oftentimes, the art is what connects us to the artist. It’s truly a unique feeling when you are confronted with great art.
In the last couple of years, you have worked with artists within and outside Nigeria, what similarities/differences do you see from both?
We have been fortunate to work with a wide range of artists who not only have a visual language of their own, but also have a defined artistic expression. There are no similarities between them, just pure creative ingenuity.
How are you broadening the representation of local and diaspora artists even in these times?
We rely heavily on our following and subscriptions on digital platforms to maximise the coverage of the artists and designers we work with. From Instagram and Facebook, to Marketplace platforms such as, Artsy and Mr. Porter, our job is to make sure the artists we work with are promoted and celebrated consistently.
Would you work with an artist that is outside of the contemporary art bracket?
We focus primarily on contemporary artists from the African continent and its diaspora. In the future, this may change, but currently this is the community of artists that we serve.
Building a bridge between local and international audiences must be a tough task, how are you achieving this?
By virtue of our connections through digital platforms, along with long standing relationships with key industry players, we have been able to bridge these gaps where we connect to art communities in other cities across the world. This year, we plan to attend a few art fairs, which will allow us broaden our connections in other art markets and showcase our artists there.
O’DA has worked with a number of rising and well established artists in the last few months, would you take on a brand new artist just starting out?
We are more than happy to showcase emerging artists at our gallery. We have done so in the last few months with artists such as Simon Ojeaga in our Christmas miniatures show, Other-Worldly; and our group show, Vivid, at Nordic Hotel in October.
When art connoisseurs come to O’DA first, what do you want/like them to experience about art?
Our gallery is often likened to a sanctuary, where one can escape their daily trails and stresses. For us, it’s intentional! We want our guests to have a holistic experience when they set into the gallery. In order to do this, we try to peak their senses with calming music and fresh scents, which gives them space to interact with the art they view. We also seek to engage and empower our community through the arts by highlighting the creative, cultural and historic diversity of our region.
What are your plans for a residency program, is this in the works?
A residency is still in the works but right now, we are gearing up for the exhibitions planned next month and the Art Fairs later in the year.
What changes would you like to see happen for the Nigerian art and contemporary design scene in the near future?
I’d like to see more experimental and conceptual curations in the future. I also want to see more support from our governments; specifically for them to provide funding for projects in the art space so that we have more rope to expand, inspire and cultivate art initiatives.